Working as a CNA is not just emotionally demanding, it can be physically dangerous. A research study showed that more than 60% of the CNAs contacted reported a work-related injury. Almost 25% of those were not able to return to the job because the injury was so severe.
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There are several reasons, but one of the most common is lifting patients the wrong way. The effect can be immediate or cumulative, happening after months of lifting.
Here is a look at four ways you can avoid injury to your back or other parts of your body while working as a CNA.
Stay in Shape!
This is cited as the most essential method of saving yourself from injury. The job of certified nursing assistant requires strength, stamina and flexibility. That means you need to follow a workout routine that includes:
- Cardio, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking and tennis
- Resistance training, which includes working with free weights, resistance bands or with machines in a gym
- Flexibility and balance training, like yoga, pilates, tai chi and stretching
The workouts don’t need to be hours long. A regular program of 30 minutes four or five days a week, plus lots of walking and taking the stairs, can do wonders for your body.
Learn to Lift
The clinical sections of most CNA training programs include learning the proper way to lift and move a patient. A variety of methods are taught, each useful for specific circumstances. Match the right method to the lift you need to do. The result will be less back pain and fewer injuries to your back, knees and ankles.
In many instances, it is important to lift with your arms and not your back. By using your arms, you can avoid back injury. In other cases, you need to rely more on your back muscles than your leg muscles. Learn when each method is appropriate.
This points up the importance of regular strength and flexibility training routines. Without strength in your arms and upper back, as well as the ability to bend and rotate easily, you are inviting injury. You need to practice flexibility and balance in order to protect your lower torso from injury.
Use Lifting Gear
A wide range of lifting devices are available in hospitals and nursing homes. Mechanical lifting equipment allows the appliance to do the heavy lifting, while you operate it and get the patient properly situated.
Use the Team Approach
Never be afraid to ask for help from another member of the staff. Two people together can move a large person much more easily and safely than a single CNA. Two team members can use the two-person gait belt or the two-person hook and toss method.
At times you will find yourself without help. In those cases, deal with the lift as safely as possible. But if it happens often, talk to your supervisors about the need for lift teams in your department, as well as continuing education of all personnel in the safest methods.
You can avoid injury as a CNA in the short and long term. Keep yourself in good physical shape, learn to lift properly, make use of all available lifting equipment and work with other staff.